That Which Remains by Olivia Batker Pritzker

unnamed-7Vote at the end of this episode!

Previously… Jasper, the mysterious new comer to Anchester Falls, offers Juliette a business proposition. Readers voted that she agrees to meet with him the following day to discuss it.

Episode 5

Juliette paused outside number 7, her eyes traveling up the graffitied door to the boarded up windows, and then around the deserted street. This street was particularly full of empty storefronts and faded “For Lease” signs hung outside vacant apartment buildings, and from the outside there seemed to be no signs of life at all. After another moment’s’ hesitation, Juliette knocked loudly on the front door.

It opened almost instantly.

“Juliette! On time, how lovely.” Jasper was wearing the same faded gray suit he’d been wearing the night before, but this time accompanied by a thin mustard-yellow tie.

“Come in, come in.”

He opened the door wider and Juliette stepped inside, her eyes adjusting to the dim room. The space was filled with worn, patchy velvet couches in rich gem colors – red, blue, green. There was a broken lamp in the corner and a long wooden bar against one wall. A few glass decanters stood on the shelves behind the bar, filled with various dark liquids. There were also a few brightly patterned pillows scattered across the floor, a headless plastic mannequin in the corner, an old telephone booth, and a neon sign on the wall that said ILLUMINATE. It looked as though Jasper had amassed an eccentric collection of furniture and other random items, none of which matched or seemed to belong there at all.

Jasper settled comfortably onto a red-and-orange checkered loveseat and gestured for Juliette to take a seat across from him. He offered her a cup of tea from an ornate silver teapot, which she accepted. He sipped his tea and said nothing, merely peered over his glasses at Juliette as if waiting for her to comment on her surroundings.

She couldn’t think of anything to say about her surroundings, so after a moment she blurted out – “What exactly is your business?”

Jasper laughed.

“Straight to the point, I like that Juliette. Very well – I find that demonstration explains better than words, so allow me to show you what I do.”

He reached behind the loveseat, opened a small wooden trunk and produced a strange silver instrument from within. It looked like a balance but with strings in the middle and small silver balls on the strings, which seemed to be vibrating slightly. At the base there was an engraved silver circle, worn down as if it had been rubbed or touched many times.

“If you would be so kind as to put your hands here.” Jasper gestured towards the circle.

Juliette looked questioningly at Jasper but he was busy fiddling with the strings of the silver instrument. She placed her hands tentatively on the silver circle. She had expected it to be cold, but it was warm and pulsing, almost like a heartbeat. Her eyes widened but she did not remove her hands.

“Thank you. Now…” Jasper closed his eyes and placed his own hands on the scales. The silver balls vibrated harder. “Your parents…how awful…you live with your brother, I see, and someone else? A friend, trustworthy though she is not who she says she is…and, this is interesting, with a connection to your boss? Calvin White, yes, and speaking of not being-” He stopped abruptly and opened his eyes. Juliette was staring at him with her mouth open. Her immediate thought was that this was some kind of scam – that Jasper had researched her, talked to people in town, something – this stuff wasn’t, couldn’t be real. “What do you mean, Roxy isn’t who she says she is,” Juliette asked finally.

Jasper had backed away slightly and was once again looking intently at Juliette over his glasses. “I will show you, if you’ll agree to work with me. I see that much has been concealed in this town, and you are somehow at the center of it.” He held a hand up when Juliette opened her mouth and continued. “There is a great deal I can teach you, Juliette, but do not agree lightly – after all, there are some things which should remain unknown.”  Vote below on what will happen next or if reading in email click Take our Poll.

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